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Brüll, Jacob

(1812–1889), rabbi and Talmudic scholar. Jacob Brüll was born in Rousínov (Ger., Neu-Raussnitz) in the Habsburg province of Moravia. He attended several yeshivas in Hungary (Bonyhád, Pressburg, and Buda) before returning to Moravia, where he was ordained by Michael Wronik, rabbi of Rousínov, and Neḥemyah Trebitsch, chief rabbi of Moravia. He later married Trebitsch’s daughter, Regina. Brüll served as rabbi of Kojetín (Kojetein), Moravia, from 1844 until his death.

Among Brüll’s most notable students were his sons Nehemias (1843–1891) and Adolf (1846–1908), and future scholar David Kaufmann. Renowned for his prodigious knowledge of rabbinic literature, Brüll approached the Mishnaic and Talmudic corpus from a historical–critical perspective. His first scholarly work was an annotated edition of Tsevi Hirsh Chajes’s Igeret bikoret (1852), which presents a history of the redaction of the Targumim and Midrashim. His Doresh le-tsiyon (1864) is a study of mnemonics in the Babylonian Talmud; and his two-volume magnum opus, Mevo ha-Mishnah (1876–1885), contains biographies of Torah scholars from the time of Ezra until the redaction of the Mishnah, along with an examination of methods of study. Finally, his valedictory work Ben zekunim (1889) contains rabbinic responsa as well as studies in Talmudic literature.

Brüll also contributed to Gutachten ausländischer Rabbinen (Opinions of Foreign Rabbis; 1870), a collection of rabbinic responsa criticizing secessionist Hungarian Orthodoxy. He was a frequent contributor to scholarly periodicals, including Ben Chananja, Bet-Talmud, and Jahrbücher für jüdische Geschichte und Literatur (Yearbooks for Jewish History and Literature).

Brüll’s sons became Jewish scholars in their own right. After serving as rabbi of the Reform synagogue in Frankfurt am Main, Nehemias Brüll left the rabbinate to devote himself to scholarship. In 1874, he founded the above-mentioned Jahrbücher für jüdische Geschichte und Literatur, which he edited and contributed to until his death. His brother Adolf was a specialist in Samaritan history and literature.

Suggested Reading

“Jacob Brüll,” Die Neuzeit 29 (6 December 1889): 468–469; Gary G. Porton, “Jacob Brüll: The Mishnah as a Law-Code,” in The Modern Study of the Mishnah, ed. Jacob Neusner (Leiden, 1973).